Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Review

A lot of movie sequels like to go bigger. Leave it to Ant-Man and the Wasp then to take their anticipated threequel, and instead make it smaller. Much smaller. So small in fact that it can’t be seen by the naked eye!

Okay, so, in a sense, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is still vastly increasing its size and scope. It’s just doing so by retreating into the abstract world of the Quantum Realm, a very important sector of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that exists at an atomic level of smallness within the world. With 2015’s original Ant-Man movie first laying the foundation for the MCU’s Quantum Realm, adapted from Marvel Comics’ ‘Microverse’, it feels appropriate that the Ant-Man movie trilogy would be rounded off with our deepest dive into the Quantum Realm to date, long after it ended up serving as the necessary ace-in-the-hole through which the Avengers were able to turn the tide against the MCU’s previous arch-villain, Thanos during Avengers: Endgame.

The Quantum Realm giveth and the Quantum Realm taketh away however, because the MCU’s new arch-villain just so happens to be lurking in this atomic sub-world, and he’s pretty eager to escape into the MCU proper! This imminent twist saddles Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania with not just wrapping up the current run of Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man movies, in turn kicking off the MCU’s ‘Phase Five’ catalogue of projects, but also properly introducing Thanos’ successor, Kang the Conquerer, the MCU’s next promised Avengers-level threat. That’s a lot to juggle for what is, frankly, a proudly B-list Marvel movie franchise, one so modest in MCU pedigree that even the franchise itself frequently cracks jokes about Ant-Man being a largely unknown, unremarkable side hero within the celebrated Avengers lineup.

If you’re coming for Kang at least, you won’t be disappointed. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania definitely gives the dangerous time-manipulating villain a memorable debut in live-action. For all its commendable ambition when it comes to weirdness and danger however, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania also feels like a disappointingly middling Marvel Studios blockbuster in the end. This isn’t helped by an uneven suite of visual effects that leave some of the Quantum Realm struggling to keep viewers engaged in the action. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have a good time with this Ant-Man trilogy capper, but it also feels like a disappointingly weak start to the MCU’s Phase Five, one that deserved to leave more of an impact than it ultimately does.


Following two previous solo adventures, a stint in Captain America’s Civil War, and a battle against a universal threat, you might imagine that the MCU’s present Ant-Man, Scott Lang is riding pretty high, even when he’s frequently getting confused with other Friendly Neighbourhood Marvel heroes, at best. Sure enough, Scott has done what he can with his paltry superhero fame in a post-Blip world; He’s written a book, he’s frequently high-fived the San Francisco community, and he’s largely ridden the Thanos train for years, despite never really finding an excuse to saddle up as a hero again.

This is in stark contrast to Scott’s now-adult daughter, Cassie, once again recast for the MCU’s future, and now being portrayed by Kathryn Newton. Cassie’s college-age actions apparently see her serving as a chip off the old block, sticking it to the man at protests and rallies, something that sees her coming in and out of jail. Unbeknownst to Scott as well, Hank, Janet and Hope have been secretly helping Cassie build a new heroic identity in the process, while Cassie quietly resents the fact that her father has begun to coast on his modest level of Avengers success.

“For all its commendable ambition when it comes to weirdness and danger however, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania also feels like a disappointingly middling Marvel Studios blockbuster in the end.”

This creates a pretty decent foundation for family conflicts amid the Lang/Pym/Van Dyne unit of small-sized heroes in this movie. Or, it would, if most of these characters’ development wasn’t abandoned the second they get sucked into the Quantum Realm. Michelle Pfeiffer’s return as Janet is at least given a little more punch, as she becomes the vanguard to foreshadowing the true menace behind Kang, but Evangeline Lilly might as well have not come along this time out, since Hope is practically forgotten in a movie where she ironically has title billing. Likewise, while Hank is a lovable sidekick here, an interesting role reversal from his former position as the mentor figure to Scott and Hope, Michael Douglas is now left to do little more than grumble and crack sarcastic jokes about the Quantum Realm. Sure, the jokes are usually funny, and if nothing else, Douglas is a solid comedic highlight in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but it’s frustrating that he doesn’t have more to do beyond being a wisecracker or a Deus Ex Machina this time out.

It’s not a stretch to assume that Disney’s and Marvel Studios’ obvious Young Avengers plans for Cassie are probably to blame for this. Newton’s Cassie is a fairly likable crusader for justice in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania at least, and she succeeds well enough as a budding new superhero, following in the footsteps of her Marvel Comics inspiration, Stature. Still, the necessary focus on developing Cassie leaves the Lang’s quickly hogging the spotlight from the other lead heroes, even if Michelle Pfeiffer’s standout supporting performance pulls enough weight to keep a noticeably less engaged Douglas and Lilly afloat. Fortunately, Paul Rudd is also enabled to deliver his most courageous and ambitious Scott Lang performance to date here, as Scott confronts an existential crisis in the Quantum Realm, the likes of which he, or any Avenger, couldn’t previously fathom.


As much fun as one can have with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s lead heroes, it’s arguably Jonathan Majors’ villain that steals the show here. That’s great news for MCU enthusiasts, because we’ll be seeing a lot more of Majors’ Kang the Conquerer over the next few years, with this Ant-Man threequel merely serving as the beginning of the highly dangerous villain’s career as an MCU arch-foe.

There are many highlight moments surrounding Kang’s character throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and I wouldn’t want to spoil any of them. What I can touch on is that Kang is excellently foreshadowed as an iron-fisted ruler in the Quantum Realm, being a brilliant scientist from the 31st Century that makes an empire out of his being stuck in this microscopic sub-world. While it’s not strictly essential, it also helps to have watched the first season of Disney+ series, Loki to get the necessary background info on the MCU’s Kang as well, since this series’ current six episodes marks the point when Kang’s timeline-hopping is first released into Marvel’s live-action universe.

Something that quickly separates Kang from Thanos before him to boot is that Kang is a fully human character, albeit one with access to inconceivably powerful and dangerous future technology. The MCU certainly did an amazing job on Thanos during the past two Avengers movies in particular, but Thanos was also a cosmic threat, one that dealt in larger-than-life universal stakes. Kang however feels far more unpredictable and sinister in nature. This is because Thanos was about balance, while Kang is about control. Both are misguided, tragic figures that believe themselves to be doing the right thing, as most great villains are, but whereas Thanos made no real effort to obscure his mission to capture and utilize the Infinity Stones, Kang instead operates undetected, and dangerously unknown.

Even being currently contained to the Quantum Realm, Kang immediately stands out as a threat too. Majors’ self-righteous, soft-spoken performance provides just enough echoes of Thanos to feel appropriately menacing, but it also effectively takes a new direction through its shadiness. Thanos was happy to embrace his destiny as a doomed fixer on a suicide mission, but Kang instead sees himself as almost a lonely god; The one truly enlightened man in an existence full of people and creatures that are oblivious to their ultimate design in a sprawling universe, and multiverse. To Kang, everything and everyone is seen as small and insignificant. It’s all pieces on an interdimensional chessboard, arranged for a great game that Kang prepares to play against his other selves, one quietly being set in motion from a prison outside of time, and one that will quickly struggle to hold back the scourge to come for the MCU.

This is a very neat trick, and probably the best trick that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has in its narrative arsenal; By making everything in the MCU suddenly feel tiny through Kang’s perspective, everything is thus brought down to the smaller scope of the Ant-Man franchise. This ironically allows Ant-Man to truly ascend to the level of his Avengers brethren, specifically through getting the first taste of the danger to come, and thus being forced to try and resist it, even when that task seems so blatantly impossible. The result of this idea is a valiant attempt to mix up the usual Marvel Studios movie formula, because Ant-Man and co. can’t truly defeat Kang; They can only survive him. Even if Scott’s crew somehow did manage to put an end to this variant of Kang anyhow, there would simply be an infinite number of alternate Kang’s that follow him. This makes for a truly terrifying new enemy, and Majors quickly owns the role, allowing Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to thrive as an appetizer for Kang’s agenda to come, if not in certain other mandates.


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania may have nailed its over-arching threat, but it also stumbles with its extended journey into the Quantum Realm. That’s very frustrating, because the concept behind this movie is left with a ton of untapped potential when it comes to making a true mark on the MCU.

This is perhaps an inevitable consequence of returning director, Peyton Reed being used to working in such a contained playground throughout the previous two Ant-Man movies. Regardless, Reed’s direction often strains to deliver a true sense of danger and intrigue within the Quantum Realm’s previously unexplored stretches. Reed still excels with comedy and character direction, but despite a promising opening moment after the heroes are first shrunk down into the Quantum Realm, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania fails to consistently sustain that same sense of sprawling adventure throughout its runtime.

“Returning composer, Christophe Beck delivers what’s easily his best Ant-Man movie soundtrack to date.”

The exception here is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s sound design, which, surprisingly, is among one of the best features in the movie. All of the audio presentation has a nice otherworldly feel, with the Quantum Realm’s environments often sounding impressively alien and engrossing. Returning composer, Christophe Beck delivers what’s easily his best Ant-Man movie soundtrack to date. Beck finds a renewed groove through Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s exceptionally eerie and eldritch musical selection, creating another especially distinct Marvel movie soundtrack that fans will be eager to listen to at home. This entire threequel is an outstanding treat for the ears, and its superb audio suite is perhaps an even better reason to see Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in theatres than its visual presentation in this case!

The uneven suite of visual effects throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania only make the movie’s lesser stretches feel all the more disappointing. Some of the Quantum Realm looks fantastic, granted, and I will say that the movie’s creature design is mostly pretty exceptional. In too many environments however, especially interior environments, the Quantum Realm sometimes comes off as disappointingly bland-looking and ill-defined. Likewise, the larger-scale action scenes can feel highly inconsistent in terms of their presentation and polish at times. This is easily one of the most openly comic book-y Marvel Studios movies released to date, but that can be a double-edged sword when the direction is struggling to keep up with all of the dimension-shaking chaos.

Another significant sticking point that too often drags down Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is Jeff Loveness’ script. Loveness is best known as a writer for Adult Swim’s beloved sci-fi animated series, Rick & Morty, and much like director, Peyton Reed, it’s pretty obvious where Loveness’ priorities lie here. Loveness certainly succeeds at capturing the weird humour and surreal zaniness that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania often demands of the Quantum Realm, but it’s also evident that he’s used to writing for a half-hour television series. You’ll notice this in some scenes that either strain jokes that aren’t that funny, or struggle to deliver engagement during moments that should have more impact than they do.

That being said, Loveness’ shaky script at least nails Kang, even when the rest of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s storytelling can feel like a scattered mess. There are enough laughs and imaginative moments to prevent this threequel from ever feeling truly boring, but it also feels like this trilogy capper is missing something. Even as it sets up such a promising threat for the MCU’s future, and even while it courageously tries to blow up the formerly small scope of the Ant-Man movie franchise, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ultimately feels like a messy batch of CGI porn that frustratingly ends on a whimper. Most of this movie feels like a two-hour Marvel cartoon episode, in fact, though even Marvel’s cartoons often felt like they carried more lasting dramatic impact than Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ultimately manages to, Kang notwithstanding.


Be advised that this section contains spoilers regarding the identity of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s secondary villain, MODOK. Click on the toggler if you want to see my assessment on how this fan-favourite Marvel villain is translated into the MCU:

I’ve had to dance around the issue a bit, in case you, the reader is unfamiliar with the rather surprising twist behind Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s secondary antagonist. MODOK, or the, “Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing”, is a longstanding Marvel villain that, despite his silly, big-headed and small-limbed appearance, has frequently served as a highly dangerous enemy to many Marvel heroes in the comics, including the entire team of Avengers! Despite being an Avengers-level threat in Marvel Comics lore however, it’s indisputable that MODOK’s absurd appearance, identity and mannerisms are clearly designed to leverage the exaggerations of the comic book medium, and as a result, it would be very difficult to adequately translate the character into live-action, at least without major changes.

So, that’s exactly what Marvel Studios did; They significantly altered MODOK for his MCU debut, and left the character’s identity shrouded in mystery throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s marketing. In Marvel Comics lore, along with most other Marvel media, MODOK’s real identity is mad scientist, George Tarleton, who is transformed into MODOK through cybernetic experiments, and ultimately becomes the leader of villain organization, A.I.M., or Advanced Idea Mechanics, a faction that already featured in the MCU sans-MODOK during 2013’s Iron Man 3. Because Aldrich Killian was the leader of A.I.M. in the MCU, George Tarleton doesn’t appear to exist in Marvel’s live-action universe, and that leaves MODOK to be represented as another familiar MCU baddie in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania; Darren Cross, the villain from 2015’s original Ant-Man movie! Yes, apparently Cross survived his supposed death after that movie’s climax, instead being trapped in the Quantum Realm with an enlarged head and shrunken limbs, with Kang subsequently building Cross a new mechanical transport so he can navigate the Quantum Realm with his freakish new appearance.

“Even so, it’s still tough to argue that MODOK is nigh-on-impossible to translate into live-action without the character looking, acting and sounding utterly ridiculous.”

This is a commendably big swing that helps to bring the Ant-Man movie trilogy full circle, especially with Corey Stoll reprising his Darren Cross role from 2015’s Ant-Man. I have to admit as well that this is an ingenious way to justify MODOK’s outrageous appearance in live-action, considering that we saw Darren Cross’ body contort and shift sizes before disappearing into the Quantum Realm at the end of the original Ant-Man movie. Even so, it’s still tough to argue that MODOK is nigh-on-impossible to translate into live-action without the character looking, acting and sounding utterly ridiculous. It seems that even Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s crew were helpless to change this fact as well. So, they clearly had no choice but to lean into it, with the result being that the MCU’s MODOK is an immature, half-crazed embarrassment, and a significant far cry from the cocky corporate mastermind that Stoll portrayed during the original Ant-Man.

Unsurprisingly, the significant changes to MODOK’s character in the MCU have elicited some very mixed responses from Marvel fans, with some appreciating the working of the character into the MCU’s Ant-Man storyline, while others have criticized twisting what’s supposed to be one of the most dangerous Avengers villains from Marvel Comics lore into a henchman and laughingstock. Personally, I wasn’t bothered by the changes to MODOK’s backstory, since I understand that this character just doesn’t translate well into live-action, and this was probably the most credible MODOK portrayal we could hope to get in the MCU. Granted, the extensive changes to Darren Cross’ MCU character are sometimes a little too juvenile and hard to swallow here, even for me, but I have a hard time justifiably criticizing this live-action take on MODOK, even if the special effects behind it are undeniably absurd. Really though, can you truly imagine a scenario wherein MODOK wouldn’t look absurd in live-action? I sure can’t!


(NOTE: The ‘Spoiler’ section, when clicked, discusses whether Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has any post-credits scenes, whether it features any additional Marvel characters of note, and whether it sets up any future MCU projects.)

With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania serving as the start of the MCU’s Phase Five, it should come as no surprise that the movie features some pivotal post-credits scenes; One halfway through the credits, and one at the very end of the credits. Both scenes however simply further foreshadow the coming of Kang the Conquerer as the MCU’s next Avengers-level arch-villain. The mid-credits scene showcases the Council of Kang’s, where an indefinite number of Kang variants convene at an unknown location to discuss their next move, a wacky convention taken directly from Marvel Comics lore. The post-credits scene meanwhile features a quick cameo by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Owen Wilson’s Mobius M. Mobius, both picking up where Disney+ series, Loki’s first season left off. Loki and Mobius are operating undercover in the 1900’s, at which point they observe another Kang variant, Victor Timely, one of the most crucial and dangerous Kang variants from Marvel Comics lore, introducing a new invention on stage. This is presumably a tease for both the upcoming second season of Loki, as well as 2025’s upcoming crossover movie, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, with the Marvel Comics arc of the same name featuring Victor Timely as a major presence.

Outside of these post-credits scenes, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is surprisingly disconnected from the larger MCU at this point. Likewise, there are no additional MCU character appearances of note here. This sadly means that the frequent rumours about the MCU’s still-unseen Fantastic Four making a surprise appearance in this movie ultimately turned out to be false, though director, Peyton Reed did admit to taking heavy inspiration from Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic books while directing Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Likewise, there are no teases of mutants or variant timelines or anything else that might become consequential in the MCU’s future, further contributing to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania feeling like a surprisingly self-contained storyline, much like the prior two Ant-Man movies, at least outside of Kang the Conquerer preparing to make his way to the wider MCU after this movie’s events.


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a fun and zany romp that tries to defy expectations when it comes to Marvel Studios’ usual movie template, though it ultimately does so with mixed results. As much as Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man remains an absolute delight, and Jonathan Majors’ new arch-villain, Kang the Conquerer quickly makes a superb impression, the over-arching storytelling throughout this Ant-Man threequel is too often messy and undercooked. Disney and Marvel have both been pushing this movie as a major event for the MCU, likely due to its proper introduction to the Avengers’ next major threat to come, and yet despite that, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania still can’t fully escape the feeling of being another side chapter; Which I suppose is all the Ant-Man movies have ever been up to this point anyway, so maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Even so, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is definitely missing something. It leaves several of this franchise’s leads with frustratingly little to do, if it doesn’t omit them entirely (Scott’s former heist buddies, Kurt, Dave and Luis aren’t even mentioned in this movie, let alone featured), and its CGI-heavy trek through the Quantum Realm is too often hampered by uneven visual effects and overly chaotic action scenes. As a trilogy capper for the Ant-Man movies, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is ambitious and fun, but as a Phase Five starter for the MCU at large, it’s weak and disappointing, at least outside of its standout Kang scenes.

On the bright side, Kang finally emerging from the shadows of the MCU’s ‘Sacred Timeline’ has finally given Marvel’s live-action universe another clear direction and anchoring threat, essential ingredients that it was sorely lacking throughout the rather scattershot Phase Four projects. I just wish that the rest of this movie was able to keep pace with the promising threat it’s set up for the MCU’s future.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a fun and vibrant romp that introduces a promising new arch-villain to the MCU, but otherwise fails to leave a lasting impact.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Infectiously fun, humourous tone
Jonathan Majors is fantastic as Kang the Conquerer
Excellent sound design throughout
Undercooked storytelling that feels unmemorable
Hope and Hank aren't given enough to do
Visual presentation can be sloppy and uneven